You’re More Likely to Die from Brain-Eating Parasites, Alcoholism, Obesity, Medical Errors, Risky Sexual Behavior or Just About Anything OTHER THAN Terrorism

Calm Down … You Are Much More Likely to Be Killed By Boring, Mundane Things than Terrorism

We noted in 2011:

– You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack

– You are 12,571 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack

— You are 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane

— You are 1048 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack

–You are 404 times more likely to die in a fall than from a terrorist attack

— You are 87 times more likely to drown than die in a terrorist attack

– You are 13 times more likely to die in a railway accident than from a terrorist attack

–You are 12 times more likely to die from accidental suffocation in bed than from a terrorist attack

–You are 9 times more likely to choke to death on your own vomit than die in a terrorist attack

–You are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist

–You are 8 times more likely to die from accidental electrocution than from a terrorist attack

– You are 6 times more likely to die from hot weather than from a terrorist attack

Let’s look at some details from the most recent official statistics.

The U.S.  Department of State reports that only 17 U.S. citizens were killed worldwide as a result of terrorism in 2011. That figure includes deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq and all other theaters of war.

In contrast, the American agency which tracks health-related issues – the U.S. Centers for Disease Control – rounds up the most prevalent causes of death in the United States:

Comparing the CDC numbers to terrorism deaths means:

– You are 35,079 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack

– You are 33,842 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack

(Keep in mind when reading this entire piece that we are consistently and substantially understating the risk of other causes of death as compared to terrorism, because we are comparing deaths from various causes within the United States against deaths from terrorism worldwide.)

Wikipedia notes that obesity is a a contributing factor in  100,000–400,000 deaths in the United States per year.  That makes obesity 5,882 to times 23,528 more likely to kill you than a terrorist.

The annual number of deaths in the U.S. due to avoidable medical errors is as high as 100,000. Indeed, one of the world’s leading medical journals – Lancet – reported in 2011:

A November, 2010, document from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services reported that, when in hospital, one in seven beneficiaries of Medicare (the government-sponsored health-care programme for those aged 65 years and older) have complications from medical errors, which contribute to about 180 000 deaths of patients per year.

That’s just Medicare beneficiaries, not the entire American public. Scientific American noted in 2009:

Preventable medical mistakes and infections are responsible for about 200,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to an investigation by the Hearst media corporation.

But let’s use the lower – 100,000 – figure.  That still means that you are 5,882 times more likely to die from medical error than terrorism.

The CDC says that some 80,000 deaths each year are attributable to excessive alcohol use. So you’re 4,706 times more likely to drink yourself to death than die from terrorism.

Wikipedia notes that there were 32,367 automobile accidents in 2011, which means that you are 1,904 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack.  As CNN reporter Fareed Zakaria writes this week:

“Since 9/11, foreign-inspired terrorism has claimed about two dozen lives in the United States. (Meanwhile, more than 100,000 have been killed in gun homicides and more than 400,000 in motor-vehicle accidents.) “

According to a 2011 CDC report, poisoning from prescription drugs is even more likely to kill you than a car crash.  Indeed, the CDC stated in 2011 that – in the majority of states – your prescription meds are more likely to kill you than any other source of injury.  So your meds are thousands of times more likely to kill you than Al Qaeda.

The number of deaths by suicide has also surpassed car crashes, and many connect the increase in suicides to the downturn in the economy. Around 35,000 Americans kill themselves each year (and more American soldiers die by suicide than combat; the number of veterans committing suicide is astronomical and under-reported). So you’re 2,059 times more likely to kill yourself than die at the hand of a terrorist.

The CDC notes that there were 7,638 deaths from HIV and 45 from syphilis, so you’re 452 times more likely to die from risky sexual behavior than terrorism.

The National Safety Council reports that more than 6,000 Americans die a year from falls … most of them involve people falling off their roof or ladder trying to clean their gutters, put up Christmas lights and the like.  That means that you’re 353 times more likely to fall to your death doing something idiotic than die in a terrorist attack.

The agency in charge of workplace safety – the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration – reports that 4,609 workers were killed on the job in 2011 within the U.S. homeland.  In other words, you are 271 times more likely to die from a workplace accident than terrorism.

The CDC notes that 3,177 people died of “nutritional deficiencies” in 2011, which means you are 187 times more likely to starve to death in American than be killed by terrorism.

Scientific American notes:

You might have toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by the microscopic parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which the CDC estimates has infected about 22.5 percent of Americans older than 12 years old

Toxoplasmosis is a brain-parasite.  The CDC reports that more than 375 Americans die annually due to toxoplasmosis.  In addition, 3 Americans died in 2011 after being exposed to a brain-eating amoeba.   So you’re about 22 times more likely to die from a brain-eating zombie parasite than a terrorist.

There were at least 155 Americans killed by police officers in the United States in 2011. That means that you were more than 9 times more likely to be killed by a law enforcement officer than by a terrorist.

And the 2011 Report on Terrorism from the National Counter Terrorism Center notes that Americans are just as likely to be “crushed to death by their televisions or furniture each year” as they are to be killed by terrorists.

Let’s switch to 2008, to take advantage of another treasure trove of data.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, 33 U.S. citizens were killed worldwide in 2008 from terrorism.  There were 301,579,895 Americans living on U.S. soil in 2008, so the risk of dying from terrorist attacks in 2008 was 1 in 9,138,785.

This graphic from the National Safety Council – based upon 2008 data – shows the relative risks of dying from various causes:

If the risk of being killed by a terrorist were added to the list, the dot would be so small that it would be hard to see. Specifically, the risk of being killed by terrorism in 2008 was 14 times smaller than being killed by fireworks.

Reason provides some more examples:

[The risk of being killed by terrorism] compares annual risk of dying in a car accident of 1 in 19,000; drowning in a bathtub at 1 in 800,000; dying in a building fire at 1 in 99,000; or being struck by lightning at 1 in 5,500,000. In other words, in the last five years you were four times more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist.

The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) has just published, Background Report: 9/11, Ten Years Later [PDF]. The report notes, excluding the 9/11 atrocities, that fewer than 500 people died in the U.S. from terrorist attacks between 1970 and 2010.

Terrorism pushes our emotional buttons.  And politicians and the media tend to blow the risk of terrorism out of proportion.  But as the figures above show,  terrorism is a very unlikely cause of death.

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  • jadan

    Wonderful! Thanks!

    • wunsacon

      Good question. And I think we can answer the question ourselves, by using the stats found at the link provided in the article.

      The stats don’t report any deaths in the US from terrorism. The 17 deaths worldwide occurred in the Middle East, Pakistan, or
      Somalia. Those are all war zones. It wouldn’t make sense to count them
      towards the stat you seek. Therefore, for 2011, it appears there were 0 deaths infringing on political liberty.

  • wunsacon

    I have mixed feelings about Bloomberg’s attempted ban on large single-servings of soda. But, even if you hate the idea, Bloomberg’s attempted ban makes tremendously more sense than creating a police state over such small threats. Soda is FAR more dangerous, while the attempted ban infringes on our freedom far less. Yet, the soda ban strikes more of a nerve with some people and the soda ban is what’s overturned.

    • Bill

      I’d rather he cleaned up litter, myself. Too difficult?

  • gozounlimited

    And you will not likely die from Global Warming…..

    Climate scientists come to terms with the lack of global warming

    “The mainstream media cannot maintain the official man-made global warming narrative any longer,” Marc Morano of the climate skeptic website told The DC News Foundation. “With the lack of warming and the failure to shift the climate debate to ‘extreme weather,’ warmists are now losing once stalwart members of the media in promoting man-made climate fears.”….read more:

    Doesn’t mean we should stop cleaning the air ….. even after the chemtrails have disappeared, we must continue to clean the air …. this is the appliance I use outdoors to mist vinegar into the atmosphere…. (works great)…..,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45645796,d.cGE&biw=1280&bih=639&sa=X&ei=V0R9UYzRCamViAKU2oG4DQ&ved=0CLIBEPMCMAY

    or…… just fill a glass with vinegar and set outdoors in the sun. ….If you pollute …. you should cleanup after yourself….. vinegar is a cheap and easy way to accomplish clean air….

    Take Action for Clean Air!

  • Joe

    The airplanes vs cars statistic ( relative to terrorism) at the top is incorrect. In 2008 the death probabilities were 1 in 98 per lifetime for cars, vs 1 in 7178 for airplanes. Some years are even better than that with less airplane deaths.

    • Joe

      Also the aiplanes stat doesn’t belong with the others, as it only compares death-by-airplane to death-by-airplane-with-terrorist, unlike any of the others.

    • wunsacon

      >> The airplanes vs cars statistic ( relative to terrorism) at the top is incorrect. In 2008 the …

      GW linked to a report covering CY2011, specifically.

  • ascetic43

    “–You are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.”

    That’s my favorite, and I think the most TELLING one…..

    • wunsacon

      Also, when you protest, terrorists don’t mace/pepper-spray you, beat the shit out of you, or cuff you unattended for so long you have to piss in your pants, either.

      • Greg Gauthier
        • Greg Sucks

          we’re talking percentages buddy. It’s not very likely you will get your head cut off.

          • Greg Gauthier

            You might try actually reading the comment in context.

            The fellow I responded to was referring to specific acts of violence by a specific group named in the statistics. If he’s going to start comparing terrorist behaviors to cop behaviors, then as bad as they are, the cops win the comparison.

            I know the truth hurts, and that you’re very angry at me because you felt that hurt. But I’m just the messenger.

          • complicitmsm

            But you’re still more likely to die from the nice police man though. Now you get it, yeah?

        • Plato’s Cave

          Cut your head off, blow you up, crash an airliner, beat the shit out of you, what difference does it make? The reality is that the chances of being harmed by cop is far greater than by a trrrrrrrist.

          • Daisiemae

            The cops ARE the terrorists.

        • Daneyal Mushtaq

          They cut your head off when you protest?

          Actually you are right they will cut your head off if Israel or the US doesn’t like you. Many good officers have died in suicide attacks or IED attacks because places like Afghanistan is where officers and soldiers whom the establishment thinks may hinder their plank are culled off. They need officers who will take orders blindly and will not hesitate to kill fellow Americans. Hence the daily night raids on Afghan villages and the senseless killings of women and children. Those who hesitate, well he can die in a suicide attack or assassinated and blamed on the Terrorists, just like Pat Tillman who began to question the brutality of this senseless war.

  • Handsome James

    What gives you the highest percentage of dying is by running away or doing nothing about your problems, the foremost being to get rid of the state!
    Educate, infiltrate, retaliate, decimate.

  • Tonto

    There are two obviously glaring lessons here.

    1) You are most likely to die from your own stupidity.

    2) If your own stupidity doesn’t get you, it’s the sheer audacity of some profane and vulgar professional that will do you in.

    Even though you may hear the cock crowing on the other side of the hill, never go there. -Lao Tse

    This great and noble quote is true in part because, the further one travels in our world of know-it-alls, the more likely someone is going to do something that will end your life.

    The image below is of Dr. Mark Sachs, convicted of trafficking Oxycodone.

  • Tamara Wallace

    Parasites are insidious! Many done by design.

  • Fred

    And yet, you’re 20 times more likely to be killed by a terrorist than win the PowerBall! 😀

  • Deuce

    Well thanks for nothing. Now I’m afraid of everything else;)

    Kidding of course. Well said and thanks for putting this in perspective. Though we know it will have little impact on the sheeple….

  • david fisher

    I wonder if the 17 American deaths worldwide by terrorism include the terroristic hellfire strike by Obummer on us citizens Al Awlaki and his 16 year old son…

  • Big Dan

    NOW…follow this up with the % of you being killed by a “terrorist” vs. the % the U.S. media reports on “terror”. THEREFORE…the U.S. mainstream media’s job is to keep us in FEAR. Logical.

  • Roger Richard

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    • Bill

      Unfortunately, spamming is not high on the list.

      • Roger Richard

        Sorry but sometimes genuine feeling also looks like spamming ……..

  • Mr. Shoe

    Equal risk dying from terrorism vs getting crushed by furniture. I’m sure the NSA will want to inspect my house now….to make sure that I’m safe from my furniture.

    • Ryan Clark

      two words about furniture: KILLING MACHINES.

  • Aaron

    Stats are lying…. car accidents is one of the biggest killers in the US but according to them your more likely to die in a plane accident ……. makes no sense

    • Isaiah

      What the stat is saying is that if you get in a plane crash, its 11000 times more likely that terrorists weren’t involved. “Terrorist plot involving an airplane”.

  • Aaron

    Stats are lying…. car accidents is one of the biggest killers in the US but according to them your more likely to die in a plane accident ……. makes no sense

  • Tate

    Do you happen to have a reference comparing the amounts of federal funding appropriated to mitigate or prevent each of these risks? I have a suspicion everything else pales in comparison to the more than a $Trillion spent against terrorists.

  • glen roberts

    Any stats on deaths actually due to refusing to wear a seat belt? Or swimming on a beach where there’s no lifeguard? Or living in a town without a fire department? Or living anywhere where calling 911 wouldn’t help? Or living in a country without a competitive military? Or failing to cross yourself whenever passing a church? -Glen Roberts,

  • Ryan

    I completely agree with the points you make in this post and other similar posts on terrorism death odds. However I think your methodology is a bit off and you could be more clear about your source for terrorism deaths of US citizens. I say that I think your off because you cite the dept. of state annual terrorism (which the Counc. on Foreign Relations Zenko seems to also cite). However it is important to note that the annual “Country Reports on Terrorism” only counts private U.S. citizens who are killed abroad as a result of terrorism, not those on who die as a result of terrorism on U.S. soil. Of course the report has changed over the years but generally the section you cite is reserved for U.S. non-combatant deaths on foreign lands (it is the State Dept after all).

    For instance, if you look at the report for 2009 you can see that there are only 9 deaths and includes the text “The deaths, injuries, and kidnappings to U.S. citizens in this report occurred outside the United States.” and to illustrate: the nine listed doesn’t include Michael Grant Cahill who was a physician assistant killed in the Ft. Hood shootings—though he was a civilian I’m not sure if he was Federal employee or not (and thus would not be counted)— but you get the example I’m trying to make here.

    I think to be most accurate you should take the number of American deaths from terrorism on U.S. and foreign soil from the last, say, 25 years along with whatever statistic you want to compare it to (# of ladder related deaths from ’90-’15, etc) and divide both by 25 to get an average annual value. This would be much more accurate than only a single year and would strengthen your argument overall because having your odds of dying from furniture be 50 times greater vs terrorism, instead of 55 times greater vs terrorism, still gets the point across with better accuracy.